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Baby movements during pregnancy

5-minute read

An exciting landmark of pregnancy is when you first feel the sensation of your baby move. These movements are a sign that your baby is healthy and well.

Every baby is unique, it is important for you to get to know your baby’s individual movement pattern. At any point, if you are concerned about your babies movement pattern, please contact your midwife or doctor immediately. Do not wait until the next day.

When will I feel my baby moving?

You will start to feel your baby moving between 16 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. The location of your placenta will not affect this sensation. It is more common for women having their second or subsequent pregnancies to feel their baby move earlier.

If you have not felt your baby move by 24 weeks, you should contact your doctor or midwife.

What will my baby’s movement feel like?

The type of movement you feel will depend on what your baby is doing and their stage of growth and development. Each baby is different, with some more active than others.

The first sensations you feel may be a fluttering (like 'butterflies in your tummy'), swishing, rolling or tumbling sensation or a tiny kick. These early sensations are often called ‘quickening’. As your pregnancy progresses, the movements will become more distinct, and you will more easily feel their kicks, jabbing and elbowing.

How often should I feel my baby moving?

There is no set number of movements you should feel. As you start to feel your baby's movements more consistently, usually by 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, you will get to know what a normal pattern of movement is for you and your baby. You should then consistently feel your baby's movements right up until they are born and even during labour.

Babies tend to move more at certain times of day – they may be more active while you sleep, and sleep while you’re awake. Usually, unborn babies sleep for 20-40 minutes cycles (occasionally up to 90 minutes), and they don’t move when they’re asleep.

Should I track my baby’s movement?

There are no set number of movements a baby should have, so counting kicks or recording on a chart is no longer recommended.

It is important to make time regularly each day to notice your babies’ movements. If you are busy or not paying attention it can be easy to miss this very important signal from your baby. If you are busy or working, it may be helpful to set reminders for yourself to check in with your baby.

Common myths about baby movements

  • It is not true that babies move less towards the end of pregnancy.

  • Having something to eat or drink does not help stimulate your baby to move.

What should I do if my baby stops moving?

If you haven't felt any movement from your baby by 24 weeks, see your doctor or midwife.

At any stage of your pregnancy, if you are concerned about your baby's movements, contact your midwife or doctor immediately. Do not wait until the next day. A slowing down of movement may be a sign that your baby is unwell.

Your doctor or midwife will invite you into the hospital and check your baby’s heart rate using a CTG Machine. In some instances, you may also have an ultrasound.

What do I do if I have recurring concerns about my baby’s movements?

Remember you are the one who knows your baby’s movements best. It is important that whenever you are concerned about your baby’s movements to contact your doctor or midwife.

Contact your doctor or midwife again even if you have already seen them about your baby’s movements previously.

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2022

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